The Benefits of Using Multiple Subwoofers

It's Not About More Bass, it's About Better Bass

Home cinema setup
PascalSijen / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

Getting the best bass response is one of the most important performance aspects of a good audio system and one of the most difficult to achieve. Bass that sounds boomy, over-resonant and flabby can ruin the listening experience. On the other hand, tight, well-defined and evenly distributed bass vastly enhances stereo and home theater listening.

Subwoofer Placement & Listening Position

Bass quality is mostly determined by subwoofer placement and listener position.

In a typical home listening room, bass frequencies can sound over-bearing in some locations and very lean in others depending on where the subwoofer is placed and where you sit. The reason is room resonances, areas where the some of the subwoofer's sound waves build up to make the bass too loud, or where some of the waves cancel each other to make the bass sound weak. Experimenting with subwoofer placement to find the best location helps eliminate a lot of the peaks and dips.

More Can be Better

There is a third factor that can greatly influence bass quality: the number of subwoofers. While one subwoofer may produce enough bass for an average sized room, buying additional subwoofers can reduce the occurrence of room resonances and improve the overall quality of bass throughout the room. It's not about adding more bass, it's about improving bass quality and distributing it more evenly throughout the room.

Two, three or even four properly positioned subwoofers can effectively cancel some room resonances and distribute bass more uniformly in the room, improving bass in multiple listening positions.

Typically I use two subwoofers in my listening room positioned in opposite corners of the room, which is a significant improvement over one.

I recently reviewed a subwoofer system with four separate subwoofers powered by the same amp and experienced even better bass reproduction almost everywhere in the room. While four subs may seem like overkill, even two subwoofers provide much better bass than a single sub.

Subwoofers are available in a wide range of prices from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars. The improvement in bass response with multiple subwoofers is so apparent I would advocate purchasing multiple subs, even if it means spending less on each one.

Where to Place Two Subwoofers

If you're using two subwoofers, try experimenting with placement as follows:

  • In opposite corners of the room
  • On the center of the front and rear walls
  • On the center of the side walls

Where to Place Four Subwoofers

Using a similar strategy, try placing four subwoofers as follows:

  • One in each corner of the room
  • One on the center of each wall, front, rear, left, right

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